adventure

Hello Philly

Just a 24 hour pit stop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 1 full day is what I had but I planned to see and do a ton.

The first stop was to feed my belly of course. A quick stop for cheese steak at the famous corner in Philadelphia where you will find Geno’s and Pat’s. Which would I choose? I opted for Pat’s. I had to learn how to order which was harder than it needed to be. Then off to find a seat to enjoy the foodie treat. My belly was full. Steak, provolone cheese, onions, and peppers were loaded to the max on big hoagie bun.  Maybe not my favorite meal of my trip but overall I can said I had a Philly cheese steak from one of favorite local hot spots. 

Time for the sweet tooth spot. Insomnia cookies for the win. A sampling of sugar, snickerdoodle, macadamia nut, double chocolate, blueberry and chocolate chip cookies went In the box. Nobody needed the cookies, but we all opted to spurge and get the cookies. We all nibbled at each. Sugar was my favorite. Surely we were going to have a sugar overload at any moment after this stop.

On to the city we went, twisting and turning on a million one way streets. Looking up at the magnificent buildings and their architecture on the way to the hotel. Parking in the parking garage was an experience. Super low ceiling, limited turning radius, and very narrow pathways. 
The next adventure after parking was exploring the area by foot and stopping in on the shops that were open late. An Italian dinner in the city streets. Interesting setups by each restaurant to accommodate outdoor seating. An interesting sight to see including the various designs and creativity involved. This was a side of the pandemic I had not yet experienced. I observed the financial cost to set up power outside for lights. Shelter to be built. Weather proofing elements. And one can’t forget the curbside appeal to make people want to stop. Some had fancy chairs while others had old ones that I’d assume wouldn’t matter if they got weathered or stolen. Interesting walk to say the least.

A good night’s sleep nestled high in the sky on the 16th floor was a great experience. The view was amazing and the location was perfect. Early rise to walk to the Liberty Bell. Photo op one was in the books. A walk in the other direction took us to Love park for a photo op. This was slightly disappointing but also sad. Many homeless people were nestled in this park in the morning as they rose. From young to old. Made me wonder about their stories. 

A shift down the road with all the worldly flags was a beautiful sight. It led to the Rocky steps and statue. The one and only Rocky Balboa steps. Of course I ran them multiple times. I took photos. I FaceTimed those who couldn’t be there with me. We even had a virtual run. That was a first for me. But so much fun. We toured ourselves but ran into the walking tour many times thus we felt we did a good job planning our stops.

A little further down the road was boat house row. A picturesque water side view of the row of boat houses and their boats. I enjoyed the waterside view more than the street view but it was a new experience nonetheless. This area was a great place to run, walk or ride a bike. The weather was perfect on this day to tackle a nice flat surface for some light exercise. 

As we circled back many miles and hours later we hit the Reading Market. An interesting place full of vendors. Mostly food options. I grabbed a coffee and some sweets. Not a smart choice of fuel for the body but more a celebration of the city’s offerings. We nibbled on:

A colossal cinnamon bun 

A chunky slice of white cake

A creamy pumpkin roll slice

An enormous crumb cake 

All were full on sugar rushes! All were amazingly good. None of them were finished. All of them were tasted. We tried not to be wasteful but we did opt not to finish our plates. Time to load and go. Off to the airport. One last stop we shall have.

In the last of the 24 hours we hit Chickie’s & Pete’s, a local spot near the airport close to the sporting venue. A massive dining space. An interesting menu. For me it was the lobster roll for my meal. An overstuffed bun toasted to perfection. Slivers of celery, onions and just the right amount of seasoning. A nice treat for the end of a whirlwind 24 hours.

My belly is full as I sit on my flight writing. My heart swells from the memories made. My smile is big daydreaming of my next 24 hours of adventures. Where will I go? What will I see? Who will I meet? Who will I travel with? It’s all a mystery for now. Maybe a story will follow. Maybe it won’t.

I hope you enjoyed my 24 hour summary of Philadelphia. Maybe you will get there one day and choose the same route or travel new route. For now this city is off my list of tourist stops. 

adventure

Damn Near Perfect

I was aiming for a damn near perfect day away. Okay is there such a thing? Probably not but I’m going to make today a priority.

I’m going to see if I focus on the day if I can make it damn near perfect. I’m not sure what I will do yet. But I’ll write about it. I also know if it’s not perfect I’m going try again the next day. I’m on vacation. Why not try to aim for a near perfect day. I have time. I have a break from the chaos. I don’t have any have-tos on my list today.

The funny part about thinking about this is I have nothing to model my perfect day after. It’s what I make of it. It’s what I decide is near perfect. No benchmark for this stats girl. I guess I’ll just throw shit on the wall or the mountains and see what happens. 

I was struggling with altitude adjustments in the Rocky Mountains on this day. Too many quirky “offs” to list them all but I was off in many ways. With such a rough start to how I feel today, could I even aim for perfect? 

I hit the local village coffee shop first thing. I wasn’t expecting much as I had never been nor had I previewed the menu. What I did know is I was starting out local. I got a smile just by the name of my drink. Milky Way was a mix of coffee, chocolate and caramel. A hot treat on a cool and drizzly morning. A little local paper tucked in the corner to read while sipping and enjoying the coffee shop vibe.

I was slowly dusting off my morning crud. The tired eyes. The chilled body. The day’s adventure called for an outdoor activity. Miles away by car. Rain rain go away is all I could say in my mind. We were going to raft the Arkansas River and it was raining. Well I guess it wasn’t going to be perfect but I was going to get wet anyway so I wasn’t going to let the rain sour my outlook for the day.

The ride was amazing. More than I could have expected. From fog to clouds to misty air, the scenery was illuminated. A blink of sunshine. A fierce downpour. A spurt of hail. The mountains are full of mystery. So much beauty right in front of me.

Just before the Continental Divide I spotted a mountain camp or town around a factory. It was spray painted and desolate. I wondered about its history. What once lived there. Why did it shut down? Will it ever be reborn? So much to think about for my curious mind.

A quick pit stop in a quaint town with the oldest saloon I ever did see. The floors creaked. There were many old-time artifacts within. The saloon was bustling with locals and tourists. A cool sight to observe. So much fun to shop in the town stores. From the thrift store to the local homemade good store. The experience was one of a kind. New people. New places. Off the beaten path. My kind of perfect. Leadville, CO was the stop. Home of the Leadville 500 race. Another first experience for me. A race across the sky.

The road was empty yet mystical form of nature. My road to nowhere or somewhere. Just around the bend I would land at my destination. This is where I would meet my guide. His name was Joaquin and he was from Chile. His accent was cool and so was he. Joaquin spends his off seasons working in other countries while his homeland isn’t at peak season. Away from his wife and family. So fun to learn about his adventures. He has worked the rivers in California, Chile, Colorado and Italy to name a few. I felt honored to meet him. I enjoyed my time on the raft drifting and exchanging stories. Oh how we laughed. Oh how we paddled hard. Left forward. Right back. Paddle fast. We even rocked and rolled in the harsh rapids. A few rock jumps. Picnic by the waterside. Views of an abandoned railroad on the river side. So much history. A great experience for all.

My day was unknown at the start. My day could have been altered many times. I had a positive outlook amidst the bad weather and other variables. My attitude reflected my outcome.
The road back was another rainy one but we stopped in the towns along the way to catch a glimpse of local life. I’m pretty sure I was in bed by 8pm. I would say this was a near perfect day for me.

adventure

Ice Cream

Who wants ice cream? This girl I suppose. I haven’t really beeen a super big ice cream person but in the past few months I’ve been tempted or teased by available options especially when traveling.

I was on trip to Maryland and had a chance to grab an ice cream at a local dairy farm shop. It was delicious. Tons of homemade flavors that were ever so creamy and tasty. This has been my favorite treat this summer and I’d classify it as a must stop again spot.

On another adventure in Colorado I had a different ice cream experience. Here you picked your flavor but you got Mix-ins. I opted for the tasty cream flavor and mixed in some graham crumbles. The little gritty feeling and taste made this one a good choice. On the flip side my kiddo opted for cinnamon ice cream which was good if you tasted it solo but she chose all the crazy fixings like colored sprinkles and others. That dulled the ice cream flavor and left it half eaten or more wasted than eaten. Two similar experiences, two different outcomes. This was good but not great when I consider available options.

I have a spot I hit in the mountains on my travels to the farm. Locally made. Creamy. Limited flavors but the best butter pecan I have ever had. Hours of operation are limited and the lines are long so I don’t stop often. When I do stop, I enjoy the indulgence.

Then I was in the famous area of Hershey, Pennsylvania where I once again landed in an ice cream shop. Here it was Hershey ice cream that was served of course. They had many flavors but not out of this world creations. This was a big disappointment for me. The ice cream seemed like what you would get in the grocery store. A big dud for me.

Now as I got this calendar reminder for ice cream it was yet another sign to see what was out there on my next trip. Cape May, NJ area had a big selection. Funny though I was going to have an afternoon treat before dinner after a day by the ocean. Fate said otherwise. Most shops were closed and don’t open until 4 or 5pm. Had to skip the ice cream as the good rating places were not open during my available time to indulge.

Late night it was for me at the end of the short stay. A trip to Ben and Jerry’s shop on the street. I got two scoops of my favorites smeared on a cookie. No cone for this girl. A soft freshly baked cookie bottom. Such a treat. Maybe the same flavor from the local grocery store but the vibe was present in the locally-owned shop on the stretch of street that folks visited for shopping and dining. This store flavor was different than the Hershey experience above. Kudos to the Ben and Jerry brand for consistency in their deliverables. 

My ice cream adventures surely added to my waistline this summer but it also took me down memory lane. Visits to boardwalks and barn-like shops when I was a kid to get a treat. I even extended the experience to my mom who doesn’t get out as often these days. Taking a pint to go can make for a great delivery to a loved one. It was nice to reciprocate with my kids and share the stories of yesterday when sharing some sweet treats on the road too.

Orange sherbet from the local dairy stand where I grew up will still have my most memorable days of childhood but today I look to add to my list with my kids and savor the flavor of many places in as many new towns as we get the chance to explore.

Travel with an open heart and an eye for adventure but keep Yelp close for a sweet treat stop to fill in a bit of your day. You can skip the calorie or carb count for a few hours!

family

Small Town USA

On an extended road trip, I had the pleasure of staying in one of my family’s heritage hometowns, Bemus Point, New York. Perched on Lake Chatauqua in western New York state, Bemus Point has a population of about 350 people. This population swells a bit in the summer and drops in the harsh northern winter, I’d suspect. Far removed from my densely populated life in suburban Atlanta.

Small towns are fascinating, so very different from my suburban life. I immediately noticed the banners on every light pole with photos of all the graduates from the local high school. Each student had their own banner, their own celebration. There were maybe 50-60 banners. My daughter’s graduating class is almost 1,000 in number. It was impossible to imagine how many miles of light poles her class would cover! Above each was an American flag.

Little woodchucks scampered everywhere on my morning runs. Numerous deer leaped for cover as I approached. Many of them were just out by the roadway nibbling when I startled them. So many creatures without that many people stirring at all hours. I smiled driving through the country side seeing all the different “heads up” signs for drivers. I’m used to seeing signs to watch for deer, but we also saw signs for tractors, bears, moose or elk (maybe?) and snowmobiles. We were way out in the northern sticks, sharing the road with many other creatures, not just cushy suburban SUVs.

Speaking of sticks, there were so many roadside pickups for firewood just out in people’s front yards. Hand painted signs…$5.00, $4.00, pay what you can. The honor system in full effect. (I also wondered if there was a price war between neighbors!)

My mother once lived in this town, and her parents spent decades living here. My family road tripped here many summers in my youth. Several downtown shops I visited as a child were still there. A local grocery store. A general store turned souvenir shop. The wing place near the dock. Each had a rocky road through the years but made it.

When we went out for dinner, many other parties that came in dropped by to say hello. Everyone knows everyone’s business. Driving around town with my aunt and uncle was a parade of small town dramas. Stories would tumble out as we passed houses of friends and family. Where someone had worked for the summer. Which person had sold their house for too much or too little. Who broke rules that brought them in front of the town council. Who didn’t keep their property up well or planted trees to block someone else’s view of the lake on purpose. Small town charm as well as small-minded petty. Little room to forget when the stories are so narrow and intertwined. Grudges and alliances last across generations.

Small town life has its ups and downs. A pleasant place to visit and remember.

business

At the Car Wash

Sitting at the car wash on this sunny day. I don’t get here often enough but when I do I enjoy the scenery. Today it’s a good bit of sunshine and a slight breeze in the air. 

It starts with the drive in section. Sort of old-fashioned. The soap is applied manually while you sit In the car. The workers use their hands to massage in the soap, scrub the tires. Rinse. Repeat. Then you get shuffled outside to wait while phase two takes place.

To paint you a picture: the small car wash stand is located in a gas station parking lot with a small hair salon. The car wash and hair salon are operated by the same family. Some inside some outside working the day away. I sit observing from the metal chair outside the salon. A little stoop of sorts. Here I have a view of so much action on the street corner. Makes me think of my childhood days In the city.

The parking lot is also home to the local guy with a pickup truck and peanut stand. It’s always loaded with the best boiled peanuts and today he has some watermelons as well. Many folks stop by and grab some peanuts on their way to a day on the lake while others stop by on lunch break or while filling up with gas. Such a diverse group of buyers visiting the peanut stand today.

I like to support small businesses whenever I can. Whether it’s the local dog groomer, mechanic, or the peanut man. Tucked on the corner of a main road I can hear the hustle and bustle of the roadway. The cement trucks accelerating as they leave quarry next door. The rushing of water from all the car washes. The reviving of engines at the red lights from the souped up cars.

Observing the small details while I sit and wait in my special chair. I write. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I answer emails. Today I write as I think about whether I should buy the watermelon or the peanuts before I leave. It’s a tough decision. I will choose one.

As you can see the peanuts won today. They are too hot to eat at the moment but such a nice treat after my trip to the car wash. The good old fashioned car wash.